Consumer behaviour is going through remarkable shifts, as Generation Hashtag takes centre stage. Demand for personalisation, omni-channel experiences, and sustainability is forcing businesses to redefine processes to cater to changing consumption patterns and customer expectations. Companies today are under tremendous pressure to invest in themes shaping their industry, not only to remain competitive but to survive, especially now during a pandemic that has ravaged the travel sector.

Technology Trends

Listed below are the key technology trends that will be unleashed by Generation Hashtag, as identified by GlobalData.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

Although VR has been around for a while, uptake has been slow due to the high price of VR devices and nausea-inducing experiences. VR supports several use cases, ranging from gaming to music, medicine, engineering, and education, but will require affordable and easy-to-use devices for mass-market adoption. VR headsets have begun to fall in price, and this will increase penetration, especially among Generation Hashtag. The main source of VR engagement is young gamers who use high-end headsets integrated with positional tracking functionalities. Facebook, Google, HTC, and Sony will dominate VR headset sales.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Generation Hashtag primarily interacts with IoT in the form of wearable tech such as Apple Watches and Fitbit trackers, smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, smart lighting from Signify, and smart appliances from Samsung. Roughly one-in-five US adults (21%) say they regularly wear a smart watch or wearable fitness tracker, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 3-17, 2019. This may even reach two-in-five, or even further in the next decade, as Generation Hashtag grows in age.

Smart cities

Over the next two decades, hundreds of new smart cities will be built in the Middle East and Asia. Each of these cities will benefit from the latest communications, transport, and environmental technology embedded into their construction, which will prove conducive to the demand patterns and lifestyles of Generation Hashtag.

AI-powered apps

Generation Hashtag uses apps for a myriad of reasons, including finding a partner, networking, researching new products, and finding a job. Increasingly, these apps are incorporating AI technologies, such as machine learning and conversational platforms, to improve the user experience. For example, many apps popular with Generation Hashtag incorporate self-service chatbots, which enable queries to be resolved more quickly, anytime and anywhere.

Banks and ecommerce companies are using these tools to highlight promotional offers and provide an automated response to common queries round-the-clock, thereby lowering costs and improving consumer satisfaction. Ridesharing apps that use AI (artificial intelligence) to track journeys and provide accurate arrival time estimations are also in high demand.


Many young people are closely monitoring their fitness activities and shifting towards healthier food options. According to Deloitte’s 2018 survey of US healthcare consumers, the use of devices to record fitness and health improvement goals grew from 17% in 2013 to 42% in 2018. The study also found that 60% of consumers are willing to share personal health data collected by these devices with their doctors to improve their health.

Health and fitness concerns are boosting demand for apps and products from leading wearable companies such as Fitbit, Apple, Garmin, and others. Generation Hashtag is also more open to using AI-enabled approaches to healthcare, due to their high levels of comfort using new technology.

Mobile payment platforms

The number of global mobile subscriptions reached 7.9 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2025, according to GlobalData estimates. This, coupled with growing internet penetration, has driven the growth of online payment platforms such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, and Alipay. Markets such as India, Japan, and South Korea are attracting notable investments from Western mobile payments companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon, but are currently dominated by domestic firms.

Visual search tools gain traction

Companies are developing increasingly personal means to engage Generation Hashtag customers in the product discovery process. Text- or voice-based searches alone cannot capture the exact needs of these consumers, so firms are turning to visual search tools. For instance, within one year of its launch in 2017 Pinterest’s visual search tool (Lens) was being used to perform 600 million searches per month. In line with its ambitious visual search strategy, Pinterest has also launched the ‘Shop the Look’ tool that enables users to shop for products based on an image.


Fintech is a catch-all phrase for the digital transformation of financial services. According to the EY FinTech Adoption Index 2017, FinTech adoption among the 18 to 24 age group was 37%, while among those aged 25 to 34 it was 48%. According to the EY FinTech Adoption Index 2019, EY found that consumer FinTech adoption was particularly high in China (87%), India (87%) and Russia (82%).

Factors boosting the adoption of FinTech in these countries include the large, tech-savvy youth population, growing internet usage, increased use of digital payments by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the ability of FinTech firms to tap into these tech-literate but financially underserved markets.

This is an edited extract from the Generation Hashtag Impact on Travel and Tourism – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.